I have just read the comments about the whip rule made to Racenet by Racing Victoria’s Head of Integrity, the vastly experienced Jamie Stier (above), and I have to confess that I am absolutely stunned, and on more than one front too.
Let’s deal with the no-brainer first.
Stier says- with a straight face – that not a single one of his Stewards officiating at the Valley on Saturday saw Billy Egan flog Plain Ciel with the whip ten times before the horse reached the 100 metre mark in the Travis Harrison Cup.
Is he for real?
Take a look at the Stewards Vision replay of the race that is publicly available on racing.com
Egan’s into it hard from the 600 metres where he first pulls out the shillelagh, and he is into it all the way from there on on. It’s as clear as day on the Stewards Vision, you would have to have your eyes closed to miss it.
But just suspend reality and your disbelief for a second, and look at the race from the four hundred metres on.
Billy Egan pops Plan Ciel out off the fence on the turn, and now it’s on the outside of the leader and the whole world can see the horse and gasp in horror at it getting caned with the stick all the way down the straight.
He hits it eight times before the clearly marked 100 metre line, and Egan hits it bloody hard too.
I can see it.
You can see it.
Why can’t the Stewards see it?
Here is my theory.
Because they didn’t want to.
Lodging a Stewards Protest about a flagrant breach of the rules introduced to protect the welfare of racing animals is just all too hard, and they simply didn’t want to go there.
That says just one thing, and it says it loud and clear.
Racing Victoria’s Integrity Department don’t have any.
They believe that the rules set by Racing Australia are for everyone else to follow, not them, and deep down the people who run racing in Victoria actually believe – and truly believe – that it’s okay to beat horses.
I’m not saying this as a wowser.
I’m a lifelong racing man.
I spend my nights writing about the sport, just as I right now.
I own – or rather, my wife Maggie owns – shares in a dozen horses.
I personally own 3 greyhounds and shares in 8 pacers and a trotter in the USA.
Racing is my passion, my obsession, my love, my joy.
But I despise hurting horses, and I believe that the whip should be banned.
Good jockeys don’t need it, jockeys who can’t do without it need to be taught how, and horses that can’t win without being bashed to the line don’t deserve to win.
It’s as simple as that, and before you try to tell me any different, go and have a close look at some replays of races in France and the UK.
In France you can’t strike a horse more than 5 times at any time during the race, and most of the good jockeys don’t. It’s the same in the UK, where the allowable number of strikes is 7, but few top hoops strike them more than once or twice, if at all.
Compare that to the 24 times that J-Mac smashed Word For Word in Sydney on the weekend, an absolute act of legalised barbarism executed by a man who can and does go over to Europe regularly and match it with the hands, heels, whips and spurs best that the Poms and Frogs can offer.
It’s just madness.
We’ve got animal activists and the ABC all over racing at the moment, and given the expose of our industry’s penchant for turning ‘wastage’ into glue, their attention to the cruel practices in our beautiful sport is totally justified and warranted to.
Each man kills the thing he loves, Oscar Wilde famously proclaimed.
I never liked the toffee-nosed little lying poof much, far preferring his boyfriend Bertie’s racing and boxing loving father the Marquis of Queensberry, who put the posh tongued ponce in prison. But do you know what? I reckon Wilde was right.
If we truly don’t want to kill this great thing called racing that we love, then how else can you explain Jamie Stier coming out and telling the world that he is not in favour of enforcing the whip rule, other than by smashing jockeys whose job it is to do whatever they can to win races?
Personally, I’m not in favour of disqualification. There’s a lot of complexities around the whip rules and I know it’s easy for all of us to sit back and say, ‘this ought to be done’ or that ‘ought to be done’. There’s hidden issues in a lot of the proposed solutions.
That’s what Stier told Racenet yesterday, before adding this cracker.
If a breach has occurred more than 100 metres from the finish, what quantifiable impact that has at the end of the race is not an easy task. We all see where horses are headed close to home and the rider puts the whip away and resorts to hands and heels riding and the horse surges and comes again. It’s not clear-cut and each case has to be considered on its merits and you need to look at things in totality.
Is this bloke for real?
Does anyone truly believe that Plain Ciel would have dead-heated with Shot of Irish in the Travis Harrison Cup if Egan hadn’t beaten the crap out of it to spur it on at the leader?
Do you really believe that Word For Word would have won at Rosehill if James McDonald hadn’t channelled Mick Dittman and picked the horse up and carried it to the line with 24 real hard smashes with the cane?
Or that Tyzone would have won the Straddie if Robbie Fradd didn’t flog it red raw and within an inch of bleeding all the way down the straight?
Is this actually the image of racing that the number one integrity official in racing’s second most important state wants to present to the public?
Obviously it is.
Imagine that you had a police commissioner who decided that on their beat grievous bodily harm wasn’t a crime.
The nightclub areas of Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane would turn into an MMA style melee overnight and become a no go zone by breakfast. Old ladies would be afraid to leave their homes. Your kids would come home from school bruised, battered broken and bleeding.
The thought of it is preposterous.
Yet here we have Victoria’s top racing cop (sorry Sal, you’re a toothless tiger) telling us that he’s decided to totally ignore the Federal racing rules – and indeed the law – and that his officials will refuse to enforce them.
I am simply stunned.
Jamie Stier has lost all credibility, and shown the world that he is a man who wouldn’t know how to spell integrity if you handed him a dictionary and pointed at the word.
He needs to be sacked, right now, before we even break for lunch.
This man has brought racing into disrepute.
We don’t want or need him.
He has to go.